SCHENECTADY — Sebastian Vidmar, Union’s leading returning goal scorer, finally got one to the back of the net tonight, for the first time in eight games this season.
And that was only a small part of his contribution, as the Dutchmen got a leg up on RPI in the quest for the Capital Skates Trophy with a 4-3 win at Messa Rink.
In fact, head coach Rick Bennett said Vidmar, the junior from Sweden, was the best forward on the ice against the Engineers, while barely referring to the goal. Part of that may have been because Vidmar scored the first goal of the game midway through the first period, and much drama and fireworks were still to come.
But Vidmar played a complete game, winning puck battles and setting up his teammates. By the time RPI’s furious comeback from a 4-1 deficit fell just short, the first goal seemed like ancient history, but not Vidmar’s overall play.
“He’s been doing the hitting and blocking shots, those extra things that some people just don’t see,” Bennett said. “It was nice to see him finally get rewarded for that.”
Vidmar set up Brett Supinski for perhaps the most important goal of the game, coming as it did when Union was short-handed and clinging to a 2-1 lead midway through the third period.
Vidmar picked the pocket of a defenseman and headed up the left boards and found Supinski barreling down the middle of the ice. RPI goalie Chase Perry stacked his shin pads to make a big save on Supinski’s shot, but he banged home his own rebound at 8:54 of the third.
“He’s always opening up space on the ice and always making the right play with the puck,” Supinski said. “We really needed that. He beat the D man in the zone, took the puck from him and was walking up the wall. Greg [Campbell] had a great middle-in drive, and I was just the trailer. I don’t think they even saw me. Viddy found me, and I just kind of walked down Broadway.”
Union (3-5-0) appeared to be well on its way to victory when Anthony Rinaldi made it 4-1 at 10:31, but goals by Billy Jerry and Evan Tironese cut it to 4-3 with 2:33 left, batting the puck out of the air and past freshman goalie Darion Hanson.
“I’m pretty proud of the guy,” Tironese said. ” Obviously, it’s not the result we wanted, but they showed no quit. It was determination by all four lines. We kept pushing. So you’re proud, but it stinks to lose.”
Starting for the third straight game, Hanson made 21 saves.
Union and RPI (1-2-2) play again at 7 tonight at Houston Field House.
As happy as the Dutchmen were to win, they seemed a little rueful of the late comeback by the Engineers, who weathered a fierce push by Union in the first period to make a game of it.
“We both turn it up when we play each other,” Vidmar said.
“Yeah, it was fun,” Supinski said. “We let a little bit get away, but we’ll watch some film, tighten some things up and be as ready as we can be.”
“We kind of got a little shell-shocked at first,” Tironese said. “They came out humming. Of course they did, because they had a great crowd tonight, too, and then we calmed down a bit and played the way we’re supposed to play.”
RPI 0 0 3 — 3
Union 2 0 2 — 4
First period — 1, Union, Vidmar 1 (Rinaldi, Supinski), 11:13 (pp). 2, Union, Emelifeonwu 1 (Campolieto, Maier), 12:00. Penalties — Tironese, RPI (cross-checking), 9:20; Maier, Union (cross-checking), 9:20; Manley, RPI (tripping), 10:31; Foo, Union (slashing), 18:05.
Second period –None . Penalties — Liljegren, RPI (holding), 16:39; Grant, RPI (hooking), 17:31; Morgan, Union (hooking), 18:11.
Third period — 3, RPI, Hayhurst 3 (Richards, Reisinger), 7:53. 4, Union, Supinski 5 (Vidmar), 8:54 (sh). 5, Union, Rinaldi 4 (Supinski, Campolieeto), 10:31. 6, RPI, Jerry 1 (Richards, Burgess), 11:09. 7, RPI, Tironese (Moore, Wilson), 17:27 (pp) . Penalties — Tironese, RPI (hooking), 4:45; Emelifeonwu, Union (slashing), 7:53; Adams, Union (interference), 16:16.
Shots on goal — RPI 6-9-9 — 24. Union 12-9-8 — 29.
Power play opportunities — RPI 1 of 5. Union 1 of 4.
Goaltenders — RPI, Perry 0-2-2 (29 shots-25 saves). Union, Hanson 3-0-0 (24-21).
T — 2:15. A — 2,187.
Referees — Brad Leblanc, Cameron Lynch. Linesmen — Philip Kitchen, James Shea.
Reach Gazette Sportswriter Mike MacAdam at 518-395-3148 or [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @Mike_MacAdam.
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